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Greening Europe

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What is green infrastructure?

Green infrastructure is an emerging concept in many European regions where new approaches to biodiversity conservation are developing in a broader policy and implementation framework. Green infrastructure aims to conserve biodiversity by strengthening the coherence and resilience of ecosystems, while at the same time contributing to climate change adaptation and reducing vulnerability to natural disasters. The green infrastructure concept also contributes to the creation of a sustainable economy by maintaining ecosystem services and mitigating the adverse effects of transport and energy infrastructure and economic development in general.

Biodiversity conservation has traditionally been pursued through nature conservation measures formulated in isolation from broader land-use and economic development policies. Green infrastructure places biodiversity conservation within a broader policy framework, in which primary nature conservation objectives are achieved in close harmony with other land-use objectives related, for example, to agriculture, forestry, recreation and climate change adaptation.

As a component of EU policy, the green infrastructure concept was introduced in the 2009 European Commission White Paper on Adapting to Climate Change (COM [2009] 147 Final). According to the EC, green infrastructure is "essential to mitigate fragmentation and unsustainable land use both within and outside Natura 2000 areas and to address the need for and multiple benefits of maintaining and restoring ecosystem services” (background paper, Green Infrastructure Implementation Conference, November 19, 2010).

Further reading

Increasing green infrastructure ecosystem services in urban areas. Science for Environment Policy.
EC DG Environment News Alert Service, October 27, 2011.

The Multifunctionality of Green Infrastructure. In-depth report. Science for Environment Policy.
EC DG Environment News Alert Service, March 2012.

LIFE building up Europe's green infrastructure: Addressing connectivity and enhancing ecosystem functions.
EC, LIFE Nature, 2010.

Green infrastructure and territorial cohesion. The concept of green infrastructure and its integration
into policies using monitoring systems
.
European Environment Agency Technical Report No. 18/2011.

© The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe